UCLA to convene visiting scholars for in-depth discussions on Iran protests

Triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16, the civil unrest gripping Iran has entered its second month. Amini died while in police custody after being arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict hijab law, and in the protests that followed protesters called for greater freedom for women and at the end of the theocratic regime.

The protests have garnered support across the Middle East, the United States, Europe and Asia.

“What distinguishes the current struggle for civil liberties and democracy in Iran is the nature of its driving force,” said Dr. Rahim Shayegan, Amuzegar Professor of Iran at UCLA and director of the UCLA Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World. “It is led by educated young women from all ethnic and social backgrounds, united in their desire to live in dignity and happiness in a fair and free society.

In the coming weeks, UCLA faculty and administrators are planning several events that will provide members of the campus community with an opportunity to review events in Iran and discuss a range of issues that have emerged.

Two of the events will take place next week, when the Iranian Studies Department and the UCLA Center for Middle Eastern Development will host webinars exploring the underpinnings, sociopolitical context and possible outcomes of the ongoing protests. Each event will feature a diverse group of US and European-based scholars, and each is free; prior registration required.

#WomenLifeFreedom: the Iranian protest movement

Host: UCLA Center for Middle Eastern Development
Thursday, October 27
10:00 a.m. PT

Scholars will discuss how Iranians reached their current state, what sets this series of protests apart from previous movements, what the protesters are demanding, how they are organizing despite the Internet being shut down by the government and media coverage of human rights abuses in Iran.


Sara BazoobandiResearcher Marie Curie, Institute for Middle East Studies, German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, Germany

Haleh EsfandiariDirector Emeritus and Distinguished Emeritus, Middle East Program, Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Mahya OstovarLecturer, University of Galway, Ireland


Salome MohajerProject Manager, UCLA Center for Middle East Development

To register

The roles of gender and women in the current protests in Iran

Host: UCLA Iranian Studies Program
Sunday October 30
11:30 a.m. PT

Note: This conversation will be in Persian

Panelists will explore whether the protests represent a widespread revolutionary movement; how protests incorporate ethnic, gender and class diversity; the global role in the movement; and how events could shape Iran’s future.


Mohammad Ali KadivarAssistant Professor of Sociology and International Studies, Boston College

Kar Mehrangizhuman rights lawyer, writer, speaker and activist

Zeynab Peyghambarzadehlecturer, Iran Academia

Fatemeh ShamsAssistant Professor, Modern Persian Literature, University of Pennsylvania

To register

UCLA management has communicated with the Bruin community regarding the ongoing crisis.

In a statement to the Bruin community on October 18, Chancellor Gene Block wrote: “The events that have unfolded in Iran over the past few weeks – including the death of Mahsa Amini and the violent response to the ongoing protests – are of grave concern to me and to many in the UCLA community. …We mourn those who have been lost and express our hopes for the health and safety of those who are still in danger.”

And on Oct. 4, Anna Spain Bradley, UCLA’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion, wrote that the events in Iran “have deeply saddened and affected many Bruins.” I share your sadness and remain alarmed by the affront to women’s rights and human rights that is taking place right now.